Could Social Media Affect an Injury Case?

Thursday, February 27, 2020

You are not alone as someone who wishes to share aspects of your life with your friends and family via social media. Millions of users log onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, TikTok and other social media apps daily. Around 70% of Americans use social media sites, according to the Pew Research Center. If you get into a personal injury accident, it is in your best interest to restrict what you post to social media. Posting the wrong thing could have the power to reduce your financial recovery award…or eliminate it completely.

Could Social Media Affect an Injury Case? 1

Why You Should Avoid Social Media

Your Dallas personal injury lawyer will most likely advise you to stay off of social media for the duration of your personal injury case. Investigators can access content posted across social sites and use it as admissible evidence. The defense may be able to take anything you post and turn it around to paint you in a negative light. Staying active on social medial during a claim could interfere with your ability to recover in many ways.

  • Contradicting your story. You or one of your friends might post something that contradicts the story you have been telling. If you say you have chronic pain that interferes with your enjoyment of life, for example, posting photos of you bowling or at a party could hurt your case.
  • Undermining your reliability. If you post something on social media that contrasts any information you gave to an insurance company, no matter how minor (such as a photo showing you at Disney when you said you were at work), this could be enough for the defense to establish that you are an unreliable witness.
  • Divulging your location. Something as seemingly innocent as checking in at a location could still serve as evidence against you during an injury case. The defense might use the fact that you checked in at a yoga studio as proof that your injuries are not serious, for instance, no matter why you were at the studio.
  • Saying the wrong thing. Even if you are careful about what you post on social media, you cannot control what your friends or family members post. Comments regarding your case or lifestyle, such as how much money you wish to make in a settlement, could hurt your case or damage how you look to a jury.
  • Trying to cover up evidence. Deleting messages or photographs you think might be incriminating could harm your case further. Investigators have ways of retrieving deleted content. The fact that you deleted things could look suspicious to a judge or jury, regardless of the actual content of the material deleted.

It can be difficult to predict how the defense may use your social activity against you during a personal injury claim. Changing your privacy settings will not keep investigators out. The best way to protect yourself from potential social media pitfalls is to delete or freeze your accounts during your claim. Do not post anything, check-in anywhere or let your friends tag you in any photos on social media sites. The same is true for other forms of digital communication. Be careful what you email, text and message to others, as this could also become evidence during your case.

Do Not Run the Risk – Log Off During Your Claim

Many injured parties believe they are exceptions to the rule and can do better about posting carefully on social media during an ongoing injury case. Unfortunately, they underestimate the ways in which an aggressive defense team can twist posts and online activity into evidence against them. Even the most prudent plaintiff could make a mistake on social media that comes back to hurt his or her claim. The best way to optimize your odds of obtaining fair compensation for an injury is by pausing your social media use entirely until the conclusion of your case.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:30 pm

Texas Negligence Laws

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Personal injury law hinges on the legal concept of negligence, or a failure to meet a certain duty of care for a given situation. Every state has unique laws regarding negligence, and Texans should know their state’s negligence laws. Plaintiffs who attempt to file lawsuits without a firm understanding of their states’ negligence laws could end up paying legal fees for a lost case or even face countersuits from defendants.

Proving negligence remains the same regardless of a state’s negligence laws. A plaintiff must be able to prove duty, breach, causation, and actual harm to succeed in a personal injury claim, but varying negligence laws in different states will have a drastic impact on the results of their lawsuits. Different negligence statutes will play out differently in court, and Texas follows a modified comparative negligence law. Learn all of Texas’s negligence laws for a better understanding of your claim.

Texas Negligence Laws 3

What Are the 5 Elements of Negligence?

In the civil justice system, the burden of proving the case rests on the plaintiff, not the defendant. It is up to the injured party to prove that his or her version of events is more likely to be true than not true based on a preponderance of evidence. Only then will a judge or jury award compensation to the plaintiff. Five standard elements make up the required burden of proof in most personal injury cases in Texas and throughout the country.

  1. Duty of care owed. The defendant had a legal duty to behave or not behave in some way toward the plaintiff. For example, a driver that crashed into you will have had the duties to pay attention to the road and obey traffic laws.
  2. Duty of care breached. The defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, breaching his or her duties to the plaintiff. For example, an at-fault driver might breach his or her duties by driving drunk.
  3. Cause in fact. The defendant’s actions or misbehaviors must be the actual cause of the accident and injuries in question. In other words, you would not have your injuries or damages were it not for the defendant’s breach of duty of care.
  4. Proximate cause. A reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances would have known the breach of duty could lead to injuries. For example, a reasonable person recognizes the dangers of drinking and driving.
  5. Damages suffered. The defendant’s actions caused specific and actual damages. The Texas civil justice system will only reimburse you for damages if you have compensable losses from the accident. These may include hospital bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you need assistance proving your claim, a personal injury attorney can help you find and present evidence to support all five necessary elements in Texas. Note: not every personal injury case requires all five elements. Only cases based on negligence will require all five. Some cases, such as strict product liability claims or strict dog bite claims, do not require proof of negligence or a breach of duty of care to obtain compensation. Discuss your type of case and the burden of proof with a lawyer for specific information about your situation.

How Can I Prove Negligence in a Case?

In Texas, the civil courts require a plaintiff’s side of the case to prove in a clear and convincing way that the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, intent to harm or breach of duty caused the damages in question. You will need proof of a breach of duty that goes beyond hearsay or just he-said, she-said. Admissible evidence during a personal injury claim in Texas can take many different forms.

  • Image-based evidence. Photographs and videos of the accident can serve as indisputable proof during a claim. Take photos of your accident, request copies of official police photographs and obtain any available surveillance camera footage.
  • Official reports. Copies of accident reports from police officers, employers, store managers, business owners, property owners and others could help fill in the blanks and create a clear picture of what happened.
  • Testimonies or statements. Sworn statements by eyewitnesses and subject-matter experts can help explain things to a jury, such as the defendant’s reasonable duties of care for the situation.

The main evidence categories are real, demonstrative, documentary and testimonial. Physical, photographic, illustrative and verbal evidence could all help prove your injury claim. Work with an attorney to preserve key evidence from the start. A lawyer can make phone calls to preserve evidence such as closed-circuit television footage or maintenance logs. A lawyer can also strengthen your case with actions such as hiring experts to act as key witnesses, hiring investigators, working with accident reconstructionists and collecting eyewitness statements.

Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence

In a typical personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent, and then prove the defendant’s negligence directly resulted in measurable, tangible losses to the plaintiff. Plaintiffs can still recover damages even if they are partly to blame for their damages, under a comparative negligence law. For example, a plaintiff could sue a distracted driver who caused an accident while texting behind the wheel, but the plaintiff will likely absorb a percentage of fault for the accident if the plaintiff was speeding or otherwise negligent at the time.

Under a pure contributory negligence system, the plaintiff in the previous example would not be eligible for collecting damages, even if he or she is only 1% at fault. Under a pure comparative negligence system, the plaintiff can still collect damages even if he or she was 99% at fault. The plaintiff simply loses a percentage of the case award or settlement equal to his or her percentage of fault. The Texas modified comparative negligence system only allows plaintiffs to recover damages if they are 51% or less at fault for their damages. Once a plaintiff reaches 52%, he or she may not recover damages.

The Texas system provides a healthy balance because it protects the rights of plaintiffs who unjustly suffer damages from negligence while simultaneously discouraging frivolous or risky lawsuits. A plaintiff is far less likely to file a lawsuit if the plaintiff knows he or she is more than partially responsible for the damages. Taking such a risk would also open the plaintiff up to a countersuit from the defendant. A defendant will have justification to file a counter suit if a jury decides a Texas plaintiff is 52% or more at fault.

How Does This Law Affect Compensation?

A plaintiff found partially at fault for claimed damages in a personal injury case will lose a portion of the settlement or case award equal to his or her level of fault. For example, a plaintiff filing a lawsuit claiming $100,000 in damages absorbs 10% of the fault for the incident. He or she would then lose 10% of the case award for a total of $90,000. However, if the plaintiff absorbs 52% or more fault for the accident, he or she would not receive anything. The plaintiff would then have to pay legal fees to his or her attorney for the lost case and face possible retaliatory legal action from the original defendant.

If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, it’s important to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney to vet your case before attempting to file your complaint. A good attorney will investigate your claim to make sure there is no room for you to absorb fault for your damages and ensure the best chances of success in trial.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:06 pm

How Long Would it Take to Finish an Injury Settlement?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

With serious injuries from an accident in Dallas, what you want most may be to receive your settlement so you can put the case behind you and finally move forward. It is normal to feel impatient with the claims process, especially if you have a particularly complex or arduous case. However, having patience with your claim could ultimately allow you to obtain greater compensation from the defendant, such as by being willing to go to court to pursue maximum recovery. Learn what timeframe you might expect during a claim in Texas to better prepare yourself for the future.

Each Case Is Unique

Before you read about typical timeframes for personal injury claims in Texas, realize that each case is unique. An average timeline might look far different from the reality of your case. When you hire a personal injury attorney, you can ensure a timely and efficient claims process. A lawyer’s time is money. He or she will want to expedite your claim as much as you do. Your attorney can make sure you submit all the correct paperwork, provide sufficient evidence, meet Texas’ deadlines and fulfill other requirements for an efficient claim. Only an attorney can give you an accurate estimate of how long he or she believes your case will take to settle.

Medical Treatment: Day 1 to the Point of Maximum Medical Improvement

The first phase of a personal injury settlement is the claimant seeking medical treatment. You may need to go to the hospital immediately after your accident and enroll in a treatment regimen that could last days, weeks or years. It is important to wait until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement before calculating the value of your claim. Otherwise, you might not know how much your injury or disability will cost in the future or impact your life.

Insurance Claim: Day 1 to Day 30

Something else you can do the day of your accident is to initiate the insurance claims process. Most insurance companies require claimants to report their accidents within one to three days. Prompt reporting could protect your right to insurance benefits. Insurance companies in Texas have 30 days from the date they receive claims to resolve them. In the first week, a claims adjuster may contact you as he or she begins an investigation. Be careful what you say to an adjuster as he or she is not on your side. If you do not trust yourself to speak to an adjuster, retain a lawyer to do so for you.
You should hear from an insurance company within a few days after filing your claim to confirm the insurer received all the required paperwork. Then, within 30 days, the insurer must approve your claim, deny your claim or request more time for further investigation. If the insurance company requests more time, it must give you an estimated timeframe and a valid reason for the extension. If you suspect the insurance company of delaying your claim without reason, speak to a lawyer about potential insurance bad faith. If the company accepts your case and you come to a settlement agreement, expect to see your first check within two weeks.

Personal Injury Trial: Day 30 to Day 365 and Beyond

The average injury insurance settlement takes around two to three months from the date of the accident to complete. Many factors could alter this timeline for your case, including the nature of your injuries, the investigative process and whether the defendant refutes fault. It may take much longer to resolve your claim if you need to proceed to trial. Although most personal injury lawsuits conclude with pre-trial settlements, some require trials for fair compensatory awards.
A personal injury trial in Texas can take one year or longer to resolve. Some claims take a few years to reach jury verdicts. The trial process will involve pre-trial negotiations, a discovery phase, depositions, evidence collection, hearings and possibly appeals. An attorney can walk you through these processes and help you save time along the way wherever possible. Keep in mind you only have two years from the date of your accident to file an injury claim in Texas. Contact a lawyer right away to meet your deadline and begin the claims process promptly

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:16 pm

Are Landlords Responsible for a Tenant’s Safety?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

When you sign a lease to rent a space, you become responsible for certain things, such as replacing the batteries in a fire alarm. Your landlord, however, will retain legal responsibility for other things. Your leasing agreement can describe which aspects of the home or apartment are your responsibility and which are your landlord’s. If an accident on your property injures you, the landlord may be liable for your damages.

Landlords’ Responsibilities Under Texas Law

Renting to a tenant does not remove 100% of a property owner’s responsibilities over the property. The owner will still have legal ties to the premises, as well as specific duties of care over the safety of tenants. These duties generally include overseeing the reasonable safety, livability, maintenance, and repair of the premises. If a landlord breaches any of his or her duties and a tenant suffers an injury as a result, the landlord could be legally responsible for damages. A landlord in Texas has a few specific responsibilities by law.

  • Habitable housing. In Texas, the law requires a landlord to keep rental properties livable. The implied warranty of habitability entitles tenants to safe and livable homes. A landlord is responsible for the essentials, such as a sturdy structure, safe floors, a roof that keeps out the elements and hot water.
  • Safety from toxic substances. A landlord must ensure the safety of a premises in terms of exposing tenants to toxic substances such as lead, asbestos and mold. Property owners must take reasonable steps to inspect a premises for toxic or hazardous substances and remedy any discovered risks.
  • Adequate security. It is also a landlord’s legal responsibility to keep a property reasonably safe from criminals. This may include tasks such as hiring a security guard, installing a gate, screening tenants and replacing locks.
  • Safe common areas. A landlord remains responsible over any shared or common areas on the property, such as hallways, common rooms, living areas, laundry rooms and grounds. Any property defects in common areas could lead to the landlord’s liability for accidents.
  • Safe hired help. If your landlord arranges a third party to conduct maintenance, inspections or repairs at a rented property, your landlord could be vicariously liable for any injuries or damages the paid worker or volunteer causes. These cases involve negligent undertaking laws.

A landlord must meet at least the minimum standards of care in maintaining a rental property. If a landlord breaches any of his or her duties of care and a tenant sustains an injury because of it, the landlord could be liable. As an injured tenant, you may be able to hold your landlord financially responsible for your damages in certain circumstances.

Do You Have a Case Against a Landlord?

In general, you will be able to hold your landlord financially responsible for your losses if he or she owed you a duty of care, negligently or intentionally breached this duty, caused your accident, and if you have damages as a result. These are the four main elements of a negligence claim against a landlord or property owner in Texas. You could be eligible for compensation if you have proof of all four elements. An attorney can help you understand your landlord’s specific responsibilities over your safety and that of your home or apartment, as well as whether your landlord violated these duties.
If your personal injury lawyer in Dallas can present a strong claim to damages to an insurance company, judge or jury on your behalf, you may receive financial compensation for your losses. Your landlord may have to pay you a compensatory award for your related medical bills, property damage, lost wages, legal fees and other damages. Find out whether you can hold your landlord accountable as the responsible party after a premises-related accident on a rented property in Texas by contacting an attorney. A lawyer can help you pursue maximum compensation.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 10:21 am

What Is Negligent Undertaking?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

You might be the victim of a negligent undertaking in Texas if someone hired to work on your premises caused your injuries or damages. A negligent undertaking or negligent activity claim differs from a standard premises liability lawsuit. You will have different standards of proof you must meet to obtain compensation. A premises liability lawyer can help you navigate the laws and burden of proof surrounding your specific negligent undertaking case.

Negligent Undertaking vs. Premises Liability

A standard premises liability claim alleges that the owner of property committed an act or omission that made his or her property unreasonably dangerous for visitors, resulting in injuries or damages. In a premises liability claim in Texas, your lawyer will have to prove the property owner did something prior to the accident, such as failing to mop up a spilled liquid or hire security guards, that caused the injuries in question.
In a negligent undertaking claim, however, your lawyer must prove the defendant – or an employee of the defendant – was doing something ongoing that caused your injuries. Succeeding with a negligent undertaking claim requires proving the defendant owed you a duty of care and violated this duty. The defendant in question must not have acted as a prudent and reasonable person would have under the same circumstances, and this negligence must have caused your injuries.
Many negligent undertaking claims involve landlords repairing problems at tenants’ residences. A landlord might hire someone to cut down a dead tree limb that could be at risk of injuring a tenant, for example, and then be responsible if the person performing the service increased the plaintiff’s risk of harm instead.
A negligent undertaking claim allows you to hold your landlord or the owner of a property liable for your damages, not just the individual that caused your injuries. If the tree trimmer your landlord hired was negligent and made the limb fall on you, for instance, you may have a negligent undertaking claim against your landlord rather than a case against the tree trimmer. This could result in greater compensation for your damages. Hire an attorney to review your recent premises-related accident for signs of the negligent undertaking.

Do You Have a Case?

In Texas, you have a maximum of two years from the date of your premises-related accident to bring the matter to the civil court system’s attention. If you do not file a negligent undertaking claim within two years, you most likely give up the option of seeking compensation. You may bring a negligent undertaking claim against a property owner if you have injuries or property damages due to the negligence of the landlord or someone he or she hired (for compensation or a volunteer) while actively working on the property.
In general, negligent undertaking claims require a lower burden of proof than standard premises liability claims. Rather than having to prove the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous element and failed to remedy it, you or your lawyer will have to establish the landlord or his/her hired worker was negligent, and that this caused your injuries. Your lawyer will also need to prove that the defendant had a duty to help you without negligently harming you.
The defendant must have voluntarily undertaken the task of doing something reasonably necessary for your protection, then failed to exercise reasonable care in completing the task. Finally, your lawyer will need to prove that you have compensable damages due to the negligent undertaking. Find out if you have all the elements that make up a negligent undertaking claim in Texas with help from an attorney. A lawyer can review your injuries and the circumstances leading up to them for signs of negligence. If you do have a claim, your Dallas personal injury lawyer can help you fight for full compensation under Texas’ civil laws. If you need a San Antonio slip and fall lawyer please visit https://www.herbert-texas.local/san-antonio-slip-and-fall-lawyer/ for more information.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:07 pm